Toward a Green Blockchain: Engineering Merkle Tree and Proof of Work for Energy Optimization

IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management(2022)

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Blockchain-powered smart systems deployed in different industrial applications promise operational efficiencies and improved yields, while significantly mitigating cybersecurity risks. Tradeoffs between availability and security arise at implementation, however, triggered by the additional resources (e.g., memory and computation) required by blockchain-enabled hosts. This paper applies an energy-reducing algorithmic engineering technique for Merkle Tree (MT) root calculations and the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm, two principal elements of blockchain computations, as a means to preserve the promised security benefits but with less compromise to system availability. Using pyRAPL, a python library to measure the energy consumption of a computation, we experiment with both the standard and energy-reduced implementations of both algorithms for different input sizes. Our results show that up to 98% reduction in energy consumption is possible within the blockchain’s MT construction module, with the benefits typically increasing with larger input sizes. For the PoW algorithm, our results show up to 20% reduction in energy consumption, with the benefits being lower for higher difficulty levels. The proposed energy-reducing technique is also applicable to other key elements of blockchain computations, potentially affording even “greener” blockchain-powered systems than implied by only the results obtained thus far on the MT and PoW algorithms.
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Key words
Blockchain,Merkle tree,proof of work,energy optimization
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